Message from H.E. Mr Abdou Diouf, Honorary President of the Forum

Nine years ago, on 3 November 2000, the International Organization of La Francophonie adopted in Bamako a Declaration in which the Member States proclaimed that:

“Francophonie and democracy are indissolubly linked, [that] there is no single way of organizing democracy, and that, within the respect for universal principles, the forms through which democracy manifests itself must be in line with the specific historical, cultural, and social realities and characteristics of each nation, […] that democracy, for citizens – including the poorest and most underprivileged among them – is judged, before anything else, according to the scrupulous respect for and full enjoyment of all their rights …”.

Recognizing of the need to constantly consolidate democratic progress, and measuring the immensity of what lies ahead, the participants in the three International Conferences on Democracy and Human Rights, organized by the National Council for Human Rights of Egypt with UNESCO’s support, decided to set up the Permanent Forum of Arab-African Dialogue on Democracy and Human Rights.

Léopold Sédar Senghor defined Africanness as the encounter and the symbiosis between negritude and Arabness since our populations are interwoven and share a long common history. Today, economic cooperation between the two regions is increasing significantly. The African Union and the League of Arab States have established various mechanisms to strengthen their cooperation. The successful initiative to establish, with the support of these two institutions, a wholly new structure adds to the areas of this cooperation by opening up a new forum for exchange, discussion and commitment to enhancing democracy and promoting human rights.

This Forum will mobilize civil society, national human rights institutions, parliamentarians, decision-makers and representatives of the regional and international organizations concerned in an endeavour to further study the issues involved in democracy and human rights within these regions, to identify courses of action and to put forward strategies with a desire for cooperation and assistance and in a spirit of listening, respect and dialogue.

It is clearly in this spirit that the Francophonie acts in order to strengthen the universality of the principles and the effectiveness of the mechanisms. A Francophonie founded, it should be recalled, on respect for cultural diversity, a Francophonie which has done so much to ensure that this diversity may be made a principle of international law. And it is in that spirit that I have agreed to chair this Forum.

Abdou Diouf

© Vincent Fournier

Abdou Diouf
Honorary President of the Permanent Forum of Arab-African Dialogue on Democracy and Human Rights
Secretary-General of La Francophonie

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